Monday, May 21, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Power grab hurts lower-wage workers

Local control is about to be seriously eroded by Republican legislators who would interfere with efforts by Florida's cities and counties to help low-wage workers. The Senate may vote as early as Thursday to prevent local governments from granting private sector workers paid sick leave, which the House already has approved. Local governments ought to be able to help their residents without interference by state lawmakers doing the Florida Chamber of Commerce's bidding.

About 40 percent of private sector workers and 80 percent of low-income workers do not receive paid sick days. That forces retail clerks, child care workers, restaurant servers and others to come to work sick or lose money. Contrary to the claims of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, businesses benefit from paid sick leave requirements. Increases in worker productivity outweigh the relatively small costs, according to a study of Connecticut's statewide paid sick leave requirements.

In Florida, a fight over the issue is centered in Orange County. After a group collected 50,000 signatures to put an earned sick time measure on the ballot, the county commission used underhanded tactics to prevent it from coming before voters last November. A panel of judges found that the commissioners violated the county charter and ordered the measure to be placed on the ballot in 2014.

Now Republican state lawmakers from the region want to bar that vote entirely. Measures sponsored by Rep. Steve Precourt, R-Orlando, and Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, would pre-empt local ordinances across the state that provide workers with certain on-the-job benefits.

Simmons' bill, SB 726, would prohibit local governments from requiring businesses to provide employees with paid sick leave and other family and medical leave benefits. It would also create a statewide task force to study the issue, with members chosen by the Republican leadership of the House and Senate. Don't expect an objective review.

The House-passed HB 655 is even worse than Simmons' bill. It outlaws all local requirements that say employers must provide certain employment benefits and eliminates living wage standards that local governments set with their own vendors.

Counties and cities no longer could require employees of contractors be paid above the state or federal minimum wage. This would pre-empt laws in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, and in cities such as Orlando, Miami Beach and Gainesville.

Precourt wants Tallahassee to trash a Miami-Dade County program that has run successfully for 14 years, providing lower-wage workers a better life so they are less reliant on public services and charity.

It's a familiar story. Special interests that lose at the local level go to Tallahassee and pressure a compliant Legislature to see things their way. These two bills would prevent local governments and voters from embracing reasonable job benefits such as paid sick leave. Senators who support local control and a productive work force should reject this power play.

Comments
Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Big Sugar remains king in Florida. Just three of the state’s 27 House members voted for an amendment to the farm bill late Thursday that would have started unwinding the needless government supports for sugar that gouge taxpayers. Predictably, the am...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s lawsuit against the nation’s largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the state’s battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

This is music to the ears. Members of the Florida Orchestra will introduce at-risk students to the violin this summer at some Hillsborough recreation centers. For free.An $80,000 grant to the University Area Community Development Corp. will pay for s...
Published: 05/17/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

In barely six weeks, President Donald Trump has gone from threatening to impose $150 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods to extending a lifeline to ZTE, a Chinese cell phone company that violated U.S. sanctions by doing business with Iran and North K...
Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Lots of teenagers are walking together this week in Hillsborough County, a practice they’ve grown accustomed to during this remarkable school year.We can only hope they keep walking for the rest of their lives.Tens of thousands of them this week are ...
Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s lawsuit against the nation’s largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the state’s battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Children’s should be more open about mistakes

Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Children’s should be more open about mistakes

A state investigation raises even more concern about medical errors at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital and the venerable St. Petersburg institution’s lack of candor to the community. Regulators have determined the hospital broke Florida law by ...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/17/18
Editorial: St. Petersburg recycling worth the effort despite cost issues

Editorial: St. Petersburg recycling worth the effort despite cost issues

St. Petersburg’s 3-year-old recycling program has reached an undesirable tipping point, with operating costs exceeding the income from selling the recyclable materials. The shift is driven by falling commodity prices and new policies in China that cu...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: HUD’s flawed plan to raise rents on poor people

Editorial: HUD’s flawed plan to raise rents on poor people

Housing Secretary Ben Carson has a surefire way to reduce the waiting lists for public housing: Charge more to people who already live there. Hitting a family living in poverty with rent increases of $100 or more a month would force more people onto ...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: Voters should decide whether legal sports betting comes to Florida

Editorial: Voters should decide whether legal sports betting comes to Florida

It’s a safe bet Florida will get caught up in the frenzy to legalize wagering on sports following the U.S. Supreme Court opinion this week that lifted a federal ban. Struggling horse and dog tracks would love a new line of business, and state l...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/16/18